The Jalapeño Pepper

The Jalapeño is a cultivar of the medium-sized Capsicum annuum chile pepper pod. A mature jalapeño chile hangs down and is 5–10 cm (2-4 in) long with a round, firm, and smooth flesh that is 25–38 mm (1–112 in) wide. It can range from 4,000 to 8,500 Scoville heat units in pungency. It is frequently picked while still green and eaten, but on rare occasions it is allowed to fully ripen and turn red, orange, or yellow. Compared to the comparable Serrano pepper, it is wider and typically milder.

History and Etymology of Jalapeño Pepper

Jalapeños go by many names, including huachinango (for the mature red variety) and chile gordo, which translates to “fat chili pepper” and is also known as cuaresmeo. The phrase “from Xalapa,” the name of the Mexican state of Veracruz where the pepper was historically grown, translates to “from jalapeño” in Spanish. The word “Xalapa” itself has Nahuatl roots, coming from the words “sand” (xlli) and “water place” (apan)

Jalapeños are classified as a distinct genetic clade by Capsicum annum genetic analysis, with no close relatives that are not directly descended from jalapenos. Prior to the Spanish conquest, the Aztecs used jalapenos; Bernardino de Sahagn in the Florentine Codex records that in addition to fresh chilies, Aztec markets also sold chipotles (smoked jalapeños) and mole made from chipotles. On the other hand, there are also types of chili and its benefits. The practice of smoking some types of peppers to preserve them is one way that peppers have been used in the Americas for thousands of years; further, well-preserved samples and genetic testing would be required to determine the usage and existence of the jalapeño clade and pod type in the past.

Hybrids and Cultivars of Jalapeño Pepper


Only 2% of the farmland used for jalapeo cultivation in the United States is planted with F1 hybrids despite the fact that they yield the highest and most uniform yields at a cost 25 times that of open-pollinated seed. Although some F1 hybrids are produced using recessive male sterility to avoid the need for hand pollination, which lowers the cost of producing the hybrid but results in a 25% reduction in yield in the F2 generation, F2 hybrids frequently produce similarly to F1 hybrids. Some well-known F1 hybrids include the following: Mitla, Perfecto, Tula, Grande (a hot jalapeño), Sayula, Senorita, and Torreon. The majority of these varieties were created and distributed by Petoseed, a Seminis brand.

It is the goal of cultivar research and development to advance desirable traits. Resistance to viruses and other pepper-related diseases, milder peppers, early ripening, more desirable fruit in terms of size, wall thickness, and corking, and higher yields are traits that are frequently selected for. The Chile Pepper Institute and land-grant universities support cultivar use as the most long-term and environmentally secure method of disease control from both an economic and long-term environmental perspective. Early Jalapeño, TAM Mild jalapeño, TAM Mild jalapeño II, TAM Veracruz, the yellow TAM Jaloro, NuMex Vaquero, the vibrant NuMex Piata, TAM Dulcito, Waialua, and NuMex Primavera are notable cultivars.

How Hot are Jalapeño Peppers?

For those who like a little kick but don’t want to put their taste buds to the test, the jalapeño offers about the right amount of heat. Most people can tolerate this chili’s Scoville heat index, which ranges from 2,500 to 8,000. One of the best culinary peppers in the world, it is used in many cuisines including Tex-Mex, Thai, Spanish, and many more. There are devotees of this pepper all over the world.

But let’s compare this to actual figures to put it in perspective. You can see how far the jalapeño is from being categorized as “super-hot” by contrasting it to a few other common peppers. Jalapenos, while at least three times as hot as a poblano and extremely mild (1,000 to 1,500 Scoville heat units), are dwarfed even by cayenne powder in your spice cabinet (30,000 to 50,000 SHU). It is not even close to the habanero’s (100,000 to 350,000 SHU) or the ghost pepper’s (855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU, one of the milder super-hot peppers). The jalapeño is simply not that spicy when measured by the Scoville scale.

What Do Jalapeño Peppers Taste Like?

Typically, jalapeños are picked (and consumed) when they are still green in color and not yet fully ripe. Jalapeños typically have a bright, grassy flavor when they are in their green form. They might even have a mildly bitter flavor. However, some people favor a fully ripened red jalapeño pepper. They become sweeter and lose their bright, bitter flavor when they turn red (and often overall median heat). The capsaicin in the peppers is what causes the heat, so red peppers, which have spent more time on the vine, are typically hotter than green peppers. However, it still falls within the same Scoville scale range of 2,500 to 8,000 SHU..

What Do Jalapeño Peppers Look Like?

This pepper has a total length of 2 to 3.5 inches, making it the most pod-like pepper you’ve ever seen. It is a medium-sized pepper overall when compared to other hot peppers. Some are longer while others are stouter. However, there is almost always a cavity large enough for stuffing. 

Common jalapeños mature from green to red and, as previously mentioned, change in flavor (becoming sweeter). There are additional jalapeño varieties available as well, some of which have been bred to be more or less spicy than the common variety. Some of these have been hybridized to grow larger, while others are completely different in color (like the stunning purple jalapeño).

What Are Some Good Jalapeño Uses?

This chili pepper’s many uses are a result of both its mild heat and its flavorful, vibrant freshness. Because it pairs so well with other fresh vegetables, jalapenos could be substituted for bell peppers in any recipe. If your child loves to eat something spicy, you can add jalapeño to for a great lunchbox ideas for kids. To add a little flavor to the meal, try using it in salads, fresh salsas, sandwiches, and vegetable medleys. Jalapeños excel as a popper pepper, which is one application. Jalapenos are ideal for stuffing because they have relatively thick walls and a wide cavity for their size.

Cooking With Jalapeños

Due to their accessibility to supermarkets and relative ease of handling, this chili is among the simplest to prepare. Jalapenos can be handled with your bare hands, but it’s best to wear kitchen gloves when you start cutting. This chili still contains enough capsaicin to cause an unpleasant level of burning, especially if you touch your eyes.